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Magnan teaches French 101

Friday, 12.10.2010 / 4:00 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Magnan teaches French 101
Magnan with French students at the Rock on Dec. 2.
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Olivier Magnan can recall having his share of ups and downs when he learned English for the first time.

When he recently had a chance to help New Jersey students with their French, he was happy to say "Oui."

“My first year (of pro) my wife was better than me in English,” Magnan said. “I was making her do the calling, ‘Hey can you call them and ask them in English, because I can’t understand.’ Now I’m pretty good.”

After the Devils’ game against Montreal on Dec. 2, Magnan met with a group of more than 700 French students from 29 middle and high schools in New Jersey. He held a 30-minute question-and-answer session with the students in Prudential Center’s lower bowl.

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond took part in a similar French meet and greet last season.

“It went well,” Magnan said. “I thought at first they were French from France or from Quebec, but I was told they were just learning French. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ They were OK, trying to make sentences and ask questions. That was fun to chat a little bit with them and answer their questions.”

The native of Sherbrooke, Quebec, felt the students had a pretty good handle on the language. When they needed a little guidance, he stepped in to offer his assistance.

“Most of them had something written on paper and were just reading it,” he said. “When I didn’t understand, I would just take a look and see what the question was. But yeah, it was fun. I enjoyed it.”

Some of the questions touched on a topic Magnan knows well.

“Pretty much hockey stuff, like when did you start playing hockey, who was your favorite player and all that stuff,” he said.

Other questions suggested Magnan had made some new fans.

“One girl asked me if I had a girlfriend and if she could kiss me,” he said. “I was like, “Uh, I don’t think so.’”

Growing up in Quebec, he said he began taking English classes at the age of 12. He’s still working to perfect it. 

“We took some English classes at school, but basic stuff,” he said. “You don’t go really far with that. My first year of pro pretty much and since I was 20 years old I had to do everything in English. I learned my English that way. I’m still learning.”
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